Story/Art: Asahi Sakano
What They Say
In a world full of Evils, humanity’s only hope is the inhuman power of the witches.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
After the double-length opening chapter, Guardian of the Witch settles into a more standard 26-page installment here, giving Asahi Sakano a chance to work the pacing a bit better. While the first chapter brought in a ton of information and world-building, it’s the kind of installment that’s so overloaded with information that it stumbles over itself and simply becomes too much. Sakano keeps things moving here more than anything else when you get down to it but it does set a bit more in motion for the bond that’s going to have to become really strong here, and not just between Fafner and Manasfa. Nahta has to change who she is to some degree and her view of what’s going on and Fafner in particular.
With the quick-fire decision made to get Manasfa out of the city, the trio are now being hunted by essentially anyone that’s got the ability to do so. The full-force of the city-state of Berne itself is now on the lookout for them and the trio are spending their time in a little cottage not far from the wall itself. The downtime is good as Manasfa is exhausted after using her abilities and not having much food so the initial focus is on Nahta and Fafner. Which is welcome as Nahta is not pleased by this turn of events at all as she had hoped to just give Manasfa a good life before the Evil consumed her as she reveals that Manasfa has likely six months to live before it becomes too much. That’s a little surprising all around but it just reinforces for Fafner that he’s in the right to help Manasfa and give her a chance to live freely outside of the city while looking for a way to make her the last witch so nobody else has to suffer like that.
What we also get amid all of this is that Nahta thinks there’s a way to help Manasfa get back to being a normal human, but that’s kind of pushed to the side in the face of immediate concerns. And that’s largely focused on the fact that with a sizable reward being set up for Manasfa’s capture, the group needs to hit the road fast and get out of Berne. Again, this feels like a short cheat version of Attack on Titan in some ways but watching as Fafner sets them in motion to work together to get to the top of the wall plays well. There’s a beautiful two-page spread toward the end of this chapter that really does a good job in setting the tone for the scale of the world – even if it does just feel like Attack on Titan Lite. Sakano’s artwork has all the right appeal for the Shonen Jump audience while capturing aspects of the other work that has a strong audience. That’s not a mixture for success but it at least is an understandable approach.
Guardian of the Witch has a decent second installment and it and the third will be the most telling as to whether the series is worth spending the time with. The opening provided a lot of foundational material and the next installment is hopefully going to give us a real look outside of Berne to get a handle on where it is that Sakano wants to take the series. I’m enjoying the obvious riffs and homages to Attack on Titan and am liking the small things it’s doing to make it its own story as well. The weekly series offers something fun and the artwork is probably the bigger draw at the moment as there’s a lot to like here until we really get a feel for who these characters are supposed to become.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Shonen Jump
Release Date: February 9th, 2020